ZONE C Leitrim dates.pdf (size 84.5 KB)
Farmers advised of to be mindful of protecting water quality during the slurry spreading season.
The 1st of February marks the opening of the slurry spreading season and there are many legal conditions and restrictions about the manner in which this highly polluting but valuable fertiliser should be handled and utilised by the agricultural sector. While the concept of calendar farming may be a bug bear for farmers these protections are necessary to protect water quality. Zone C (into which Co. Leitrim falls) as has a closed period two weeks longer than the rest of the country and this is reflective of weather and soil condition in our region.
These restrictions are enforceable by the Local Authorities under (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017, more commonly known as the GAP Regulations. This legislation puts into practice aspects of the Nitrates Directive, a European wide effort to reduce Nitrate and Phosphorous pollution of waters from agricultural Sources.
The GAP regulations are well known to farmers and put a heavy onus on good farmyard management and method and manner of slurry/soiled water/ farmyard manure and chemical fertiliser application. There are limitations in relation to ‘buffer distances’, ground conditions, forecasted weather, slurry application equipment and spreading dates.
Most farmers will be anxious to reduce the levels of slurry in their tanks after the long period over which animals have been housed and they will be watching ground conditions anxiously and waiting for a weather window to apply this valuable nutrient resource. So it is at this point that we urge farmers to think about water quality and how slurry may find a pathway to field drains, small streams, rivers, on lake shorelines. Buffer distances back from waterbodies, timing and appropriate ground conditions can protect water. Farmers should insist that any contractor coming onto your lands is aware of and upholds the GAP Regulations.
Farmers are also reminded of good practice with regard to soil sampling. Unless the nutrient status of the soil is known, it is impossible to know how much fertiliser it needs. Therefore, by undertaking soil analysis and putting the results into practice, a fertiliser programme can be tailored to the needs of the soil. Repeating soil analysis over time (3 to 5 years) is also critical to monitor the effectiveness of a farm fertiliser strategy.
Local Authority staff conduct inspections of farmyards to ensure compliance with the GAP regulations and the facility to cross report to DAFM intentional and deliberate breaches of the regulations or reluctance to address issues of pollution can result in penalties to basic farm payments.
In reality the vast majority of the farming community are environmentally conscious but due care is necessary and with this in mind the Local Authority calls on the farming community once again to be particularly careful of water quality this slurry spreading season.
Organic or chemical fertiliser should NOT be applied to:
- Land that is waterlogged or is flooded or likely to flood.
- When heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours.
- Land that is snow-covered or frozen.
- Where the ground slopes steeply and there is a risk of water pollution.